TARPON SPRINGS - Within the next few weeks, the next phase of the sponge dock renovations will take shape in the form of trees, benches and trashcans.
After unanimous approval from the Tarpon Springs City Commission Sept. 16, City Manager Mark LeCouris has begun the process to line Dodecanese Boulevard with Live Oaks (which typically grow between 16 and 18 feet tall), Sylvester Palms (running about 20 feet tall), Foxtail Palms (running 14 to 16 feet tall) and Eagleston Holly (10 to 12 feet tall).
The foliage will begin just west of Alt. U.S. 19 and continue on both sides of the road down to the edge of the docks. Any trees located along concrete will be placed in raised platforms that also allow them to be easily moved.
“It’s going to soften the view of some of these asphalt jungles,” said Greg Robbins, operations and maintenance coordinator for the city of Tarpon Springs.
TARPON SPRINGS - A Tarpon Springs man was arrested for three-counts reckless driving with serious bodily injury Oct. 15 in connection with a Dec. 6, 2013 at the intersection of Belcher Road and Highland Woods Drive (which is just south of Curlew Road) in Dunedin.
Cory Ziegler, 19, was arrested at his home and transported to the Pinellas County Jail. Bond was set at $30,000.
According to a report from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, multiple witness were interviewed and a the crash was “reconstructed,” as part of the crash investigation. Deputies obtained an arrest warrant Ziegler and executed that warrant at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. Deputies said the investigation determined that Ziegler was driving at a high rate of speed, well over the speed limit, at the time of the crash.
TARPON SPRINGS - At a special session on Sept. 8, the Tarpon Springs City Commission unanimously approved the first vote for the budget for Fiscal Year 2015, including a 5.45 millage rate, the same rate as has been adopted since 2011.
Under that millage rate, Tarpon Springs residents will pay $5.45 per $1,000 in property value. For example, a house valued at $200,000 will owe $1,090 in property taxes. At that rate, Tarpon Springs estimates it will generate $7.1 million about $325,000 more than last fiscal year.
Tarpon Springs has not raised its millage rate since 2010 when the commission approved a half-mill increase from 4.95, the largest increase the city could make under state law.
TARPON SPRINGS - In light of the loss of the Development Services director, the city of Tarpon Springs hired Anthony Mastracchio as Building Development director, effective Sept. 4, at the Sept. 2 City Commission meeting.
The position, which falls under the direction of the city manager, includes supervising the administration of city construction projects, acting as the building official and floodplain management administrator, issuing building and construction permits to the general public and contractors, and working constantly with staff and citizens; City Manager Mark LeCouris called the job “one of the hardest positions to fill.”
Mastracchio, who studied site/utilities design at the University of New Haven and site drafting and design at Eli Whitney Technical College, has worked for Tarpon Springs for nine years as supervisor of inspections. In August, he completed training necessary to be eligible for a provisional license as a Certified Building Official and now has one year to complete and pass two tests to finalize the designation.
TARPON SPRINGS - For years, the Tarpon Springs Fire Department has been unable to meet public safety standards when responding to emergency calls. Because only two bridges cross the Anclote River and traffic is often a problem, fire trucks can take up to 12 to 13 minutes to reach the scene, far higher than the 7 1/2-minute time the city must average on 90 percent of calls.
But next month, with the opening of the new temporary station, the Fire Department will begin shrinking its response time.
Station 71, the third fire station in Tarpon Springs, will be located north of the Anclote River at 1600 L and R Industrial Blvd., next to the reverse osmosis water treatment plant. Nine firefighters will be stationed there, three each shift: an officer, a driver and a paramedic. But because two units were already running out of Station 69, the Public Safety building, Butcher will simply transfer one to the new station rather than hiring more personnel; instead, three paramedics were promoted to lieutenant to cover each shift at Station 71.
TARPON SPRINGS - In 2001, the city of Tarpon Springs created the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) with the hopes of stimulating revitalization and economic growth in town. Over the years, the designated area, which encompasses most of the buildings from Meres Boulevard to the Anclote River through the middle of Tarpon Springs, has seen huge changes and improvements through various projects and reconstruction, including the steadily growing façade grant program.
Established for Fiscal Year 2010, the façade grant program is presented with the goal of promoting “commercial vitality, increasing economic activity and improving property values by encouraging private investment in exterior renovations that enhance the overall attractiveness of the community.” The program reimburses approved applicants 50 percent of a project up to $10,000 for a single-story building and $15,000 for a two-story building. In its first three years, 13 grant applications brought business owners almost $90,500 in reimbursements, including the Christopher Still Studio, Tarpon Tavern and the Shops on Hibiscus.
“It’s been very, very successful,” said Karen Lemmons, economic development manager for Tarpon Springs.
TARPON SPRINGS - After sitting empty and deserted for years, the church at 160 Read St. will soon have a new purpose: a family home.
Richard Boeckl bought the property in 1973 after watching the For Sale sign sit unchanged next to his family’s home for four years. But it wasn’t the 15,500-sqaure-foot church he was interested in; he wanted the old Sunday School and nursery behind the church. He thought he could turn it into an apartment complex.
TARPON SPRINGS - Construction for Tarpon Springs $45 million reverse-osmosis water treatment plant is likely to still finish within a few weeks of the original deadline.
The plant, located north of the Anclote River at the end of L&R Industrial Boulevard, was originally approved by 72 percent of voters in a March 2006 referendum. Legal issues put the project on hold until the city finally broke ground in March 2013. But despite the delays, plans are just three weeks behind schedule.
TARPON SPRINGS - A preliminary budget will go before the Tarpon Springs City Commission for initial approval with a 5.4500 millage rate for Fiscal Year 2015, the same rate as has been adopted since 2011.
If that millage rate passes through both public hearings and City Commission votes, Tarpon Springs residents will pay $5.45 per $1,000 in property value. For example, a house valued at $200,000 will owe $1,090 in property taxes. At that rate, Tarpon Springs estimates it will generate $7,110,100, about $325,000 more than last fiscal year.
Tarpon Springs has not raised its millage rate since 2010 when the Commission approved a half-mill increase from 4.9500, the largest increase the city could make under state law.
TARPON SPRINGS - The City Commission unanimously approved reorganization proposals from both the Public Works Department and Recreation Division at the Aug. 5 meeting.
One full-time maintenance worker will be hired to provide additional coverage for the marina, sponge docks, splash park, fitness park and dog park, especially on the weekend. Public Works Director Tom Funcheon estimated the new hire will cost an annual salary of $37,010.
The Recreation Division, on the other hand, will reorganize its staff and reassign four positions: the current recreation custodian/maintenance position will become a recreation worker position, two current recreation specialist I positions will become one recreation program and athletic coordinator position and one recreation special events and volunteer coordinator position and the current recreation specialist II position will become a recreation supervisor position. The proposed reorganization will cost an estimated $1,145 in annual combined salary for all four positions.
Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon and Fundraiser CLEARWATER – The public is invited to the Island Estates Woman’s Club annual Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon and Fundraiser, Pink is Beautiful. Proceeds benefit the Pinellas Mammography Voucher Program for local women who cannot afford mammograms.
The event is set for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way. Cost is $22 with a choice of fillet mignon, chicken Rockefeller or fresh catch.
For reservations, call Barbara Blakley at 449-8453.
There will be raffles, a silent auction, a 50/50 cash drawing, pink ribbon gift tree, and more.
Bridge of Blood CLEARWATER – Clearwater Christian College will present “Bridge of Blood,” by David H. Robey, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., on the school’s campus at 3400 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd.
This will be a reader's theater presentation of the life of missionary-martyr Jim Elliot who, along with Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian, paid the ultimate price to reach a tribe deep in the jungles of Equador with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors, students, military and alumni. For tickets, call 726-1153, ext. 268.
Herbal Rituals CLEARWATER – The Florida Herb Society will present Herbal Rituals on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Moccasin Lake Park, 2750 Park Trail Lane.
Kim from Enchanted Earth in Dunedin will be bringing a guest to speak about using herbs in ritual. Come and learn about the ancient traditions of smudging and blessings using herbs and intentions. Attendees are welcome to bring cuttings, seeds and plants to share, and partake at a tasting table.
MLK Neighborhood Center Coalition planning sessions CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Center Coalition hosts weekly planning sessions every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 1201 Douglas Ave. It also hosts a neighborhood community market each fourth Saturday, with the June market set for the 28th.
The Community Outreach Team invites people to join them in making phone calls or writing letters to the residents in the neighborhood surrounding the center to inspire neighbors with the progress that is being made.
READ Pinellas community meeting CLEARWATER – READ Pinellas Inc. is holding a community meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 3:30 p.m., at Pinellas Technical College Clearwater Campus, 6100 154th Ave. N. in the GED testing center, building 16.
More than 80,000 adults in Pinellas County lack basic reading skills, and the meeting is a chance to learn about adult literacy resources in the community and how to make a difference.